Index

09.06.2000

TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE WITH FOREIGN MINISTER IGOR IVANOV
MID PRESS CENTER,
JUNE 9, 2000

TRANSCRIPT OF PRESS CONFERENCE WITH FOREIGN MINISTER IGOR IVANOV

MID PRESS CENTER,
JUNE 9, 2000


I.S. Ivanov

Good day. I have asked that this meeting be hold because we had no chance to meet and to brief you on the main results of the recent Russian-American summit which was held in Moscow and the visit by the President of the Russian Federation to Italy and the Vatican.

Let me start with the Moscow summit. As you know, it included several meetings between the President of Russia and the President of the US, one on one and two rounds of enlarged negotiations involving the delegations of the two countries. The agenda covered the entire range of Russian-American relations, namely, the questions of international security and stability, joint search for answers to the global challenges such as international terrorism, organized crime, and illicit spread of narcotics. Regional problems were considered as well as our relations in the fields of trade, economics, and investment and in the field of culture, education and human exchanges.

Based on the results of the visit the two presidents signed a number of important documents. Above all, it is the joint statement on the principles of strategic stability and a memorandum on the creation in Moscow of a Russian-American center on exchange of data on missile launches and I will speak in some more detail about these documents later. The presidents also adopted a joint statement on the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium and on cooperation in combating global warming.

On the whole, we are satisfied both with the overall atmosphere and with the results of the negotiations. The main result is that the leaders of our two countries have confirmed the priority nature of Russian-American relations, their commitment to strengthening the positive basis of our cooperation and the settlement of existing differences through dialogue and mutual account of interests. Naturally, not all the problems were settled in the Moscow negotiations. But on some of them we have achieved mutual understanding. On others, we outlined ways to solve them in the course of subsequent summit-level contacts.

Focal to the negotiations were the issues of strengthening international security and stability, in the first place the START-ABM problem. The Russian President again reaffirmed our categorical rejection of the plans to set up a national missile defense system in the United States and adaptation, in this connection of the 1972 ABM treaty which would mean undermining that key document. We pointed out frankly the negative consequences of the implementation of these plans for the disarmament process as a whole, for the regime of non-proliferation and ultimately for the security of not only of Russia, but of other states, including the United States, and for strategic stability in the world.

At the same time we put forward a concrete and constructive alternative to the plans of the United States in the missile defense field. We are referring to further reduction of strategic offensive weapons, the strengthening of non-proliferation regimes, including through the creation of a global system of monitoring non-proliferation of missiles and missile technologies.

What are the concrete results of the summit in that department? First, the basic principle has been confirmed at the highest level of the preservation of the ABM treaty as the corner stone of strategic stability. That principle has been written down in the joint statement under Section 5. Secondly, we have agreed to step up the discussion of START-3. As early as this month negotiations will be held or rather, consultations would be a more accurate term. I think there is a real chance of reaching agreements on START-3 before this year is out. We still favor lower ceilings of warheads for both sides than those established under the Helsinki agreements between the presidents of Russia and the Unites States of 1997. As you remember, those agreement set the ceilings at 2,000-2,500 warheads. We suggests that ceilings be brought down to 1,500. I would like to stress the statement by the US President that he will seek to get the US Senate ratify the package of New York agreements of 1997, including on the delimitation of strategic and non-strategic missile defense. As you know, our Federal Assembly has ratified both START-2 and the corresponding accords of 1997. This is a necessary condition for START-2 to come into force. At the same time I would like to stress that these agreements open up greater opportunities for cooperation on non-strategic anti-missile defense.

Our dialogue with the United States on anti-missile defense will continue, with emphasis now on cooperation for the preservation of strategic stability.

Thirdly, in Moscow we, in fact, started substantive discussions of our positive security program. Washington, after much hesitation, has said it was ready to discuss the proposal on the creation of a global monitoring system which would be open to all states. The first step in that direction, by the way, was the agreement between our Presidents on the opening in Moscow of a data exchange center on missile launches and space-based launchers.

And finally, there is an understanding of the need to resume Russian-American cooperation on non-strategic anti-missile defense. This may include corresponding regional systems with the participation of all interested parties or countries which comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The most serious attention at the talks between the two presidents was paid to such an important set of issues as non-proliferation and export control. The presidents of Russia and the United States discussed their common commitment to preventing the proliferation of missile technology and their determination to ensure effective control over the export of sensitive technologies and to press for strict compliance with the laws and norms in the field of export control.

They also discussed their common interest in commercial space cooperation and noted the successful work of a joint venture to launch commercial spacecraft. They agreed, and this is very important, to hold consultations without delay on further cooperation in the field of commercial use of outer space in order to lift the existing restrictions on commercial space launches.

They had a serious discussion concerning the fight against international terrorism and extremism. The presidents of Russia and the US agreed that growing terrorist activities pose a threat not only to Russia and the US but to global stability in general. What we are seeing is basically the creation of a terrorist international with Afghanistan as its center, on the territory controlled by the Taliban. Given this, the sides reached agreement to set up a joint bilateral group to work out concrete proposals on political, economic and other measures to counter the terrorist threat coming from Afghanistan.

In the context of the fight against international terrorism, the presidents discussed the situation in the North Caucasus. The President of Russia stated the essence of the developments in the region very clearly. Russia is fighting there against extremist forces in order to protect not only its own interests, but also the interests of the entire civilized world. The Russian side once again confirmed that it remains open to cooperation with international organizations on humanitarian aspects of the situation in Chechnya, as well as in the context of implementation of our obligations under the Adapted Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and the Vienna document on confidence-building measures.

During the discussion of international issues, we put the accent on the need to strengthen the role of the United Nations Organization and its Security Council, especially in the run up to the jubilee top-level session of the UN General Assembly to be held in September of this year. We confirmed our intention to gradually unfreeze relations with NATO. You know that the Defense Minister, Marshal Sergeyev is attending a Russia-NATO PJC session today at the level of defense ministers. The presidents also discussed Russian-US cooperation in settling some of the regional conflicts, including the Middle East process, the Balkans, South Asia and the Korean Peninsula. There is clear understanding that constructive dialog between Russia and the US can effectively help find mutually acceptable solutions to all of these problems.

A good deal of attention at the talks was paid to the economic component of Russian-US relations. The President of Russia informed the US President of the initial progress in the real sector of the Russian economy and told him about our economic plans for the future. Among the main priorities of the new Russian leadership, he named particularly measures to improve the investment climate in the country, to consolidate the legislative basis of taxation, to make the banking system more efficient to fight corruption.

Russia and the US believe it important to effectively engage such time-tested mechanism of bilateral economic ties as the Russian-US Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation.

In the course of the talks we could not but raise the problems that hamper our trade and economic relations, particularly the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment, the remaining discriminatory restrictions in trade and stringent anti-dumping procedures.

The qualification of Russia by the US as a non-market economy is also acting as a serious brake. In this connection, an appeal was handed over to the US President, and we hope that our experts will soon begin substantive talks on this issue.

Another important topic is Russia's accession to the WTO. Agreement was reached that a US delegation led by the US trade representative will come to Moscow for consultations on this issue.

In the course of the summit, the sides also touched upon further expansion of scientific, cultural and other humanitarian ties between Russia and the US.

On the whole, these were very busy and constructive talks, during which we discussed key issues which concern not only relations between the US and Russia but also the interests of the entire international community. This alone is enough to deny the assertions of those who say that Russian-US cooperation is going through a crisis. Of course, there is a number of problems and there are disagreements, but we do not hide them and they were discussed frankly during the talks in Moscow. But they do not determine the nature of our dialog and interaction.

In the last eight years, a qualitatively new atmosphere has been created in our relations with the US. A ramified structure of cooperation has been built. Owing to this positive basis, we managed and manage to find mutually acceptable solutions to the most complex problems, but also further our relations.

The dialogue between the presidents of Russia and the US will continue in the next few months. Our presidents agreed to meet again in Okinawa at the G8 summit at the end of July, in New York in the beginning of September when the Millennium Summit will be held, as well as in Brunei in the middle of November, at the APEC summit.

Such are briefly the assessments of the results of the Russian-American summit.

About START-3. I would like to stress again that the sides are committed to further reduction of strategic forces under the new treaty. We have full understanding on that. And this, as I have said, has been reflected in the joint statement of the two presidents.

The Russian side reaffirmed the fundamental stand to the effect that further reduction of strategic offensive weapons is only possible if the ABM treaty remains immutable. Let me remind you that this approach was the starting point of the agreement between Russia and the U.S. on START-3 reached by the presidents in Helsinki in 1997. We also reaffirmed our readiness to put in START-3 lower ceilings on warheads than agreed in Helsinki, that is, to 1,500. But of course, serious negotiations lie ahead on these issues.

As for official START talks, according to the Moscow statement of the presidents of Russia and the US of 1998, which incidentally our presidents have referred to in their statement on the principles of strategic stability, may begin immediately after Russia ratifies START-2, that is, without waiting for the United States to ratify the treaty. So, formally, the way to negotiations is open.

Questions have also been asked in the press about the Russian proposal on cooperation with the West European countries on non-strategic missile defense. It was discussed during the US President's visit and as you know it was mentioned during the visit to Italy.

The proposal of the Russian President on creating an all-European system of non-strategic anti-missile defense covering the territory of Russia is a logical elaboration of the Russian idea about international cooperation on non-strategic missile defense. Such interaction does not damage the 1972 ABM treaty. What is the substance of our proposal?

We consider it to be a matter of principle that the European non-strategic missile defense should have an all-European and not a bloc character. And we are speaking about joint counteraction to missile proliferation, neutralization of potential threats of missile attack on European countries, including Russia, of course.

We do not intend to make the West European states dependent on Russian anti-missile technologies.

On the contrary we proposed to work jointly and to coordinate actions in the creation of an all-European system of non-strategic missile defense. What are the concrete areas in which such cooperation is possible? Russian experts have identified the following areas:

joint assessment of the character and scale of missile proliferation and possible missile threats;

joint development of a concept of an all-European non-strategic missile defense, the procedure of its creation and deployment;

joint creation of an all-European multilateral center of missile launch warning;

the holding of joint staff exercises;

the conduct of joint research and experiments;

joint development of systems of non-strategic anti-missile defense;

the creation of non-strategic anti-missile defense formations for joint or coordinated actions to protect peacekeeping forces and civilians.

We are prepared to cooperate even more closely by way of developing cooperation.

We are prepared to and we propose to hold corresponding consultations with the West European states on all these issues.

Now a few words on the results of the visit of the President of the Russian Federation to Italy. That's in addition to what has been said at the press conferences already held.

I would like to stress that in Rome a very thorough and substantive conversation took place on the whole range of issues of interest to Russia and Italy today. Both sides have stressed that in recent years the relations between our two countries have reached an unprecedented level of mutual understanding and interaction in various fields. The frank and effective political dialogue on-going between Moscow and Rome makes it possible to bring positions closer, to actively cooperate at the United Nations, within the G-8 and to launch initiatives in the world and in Europe. It is no accident that Italy has become the first country which the Russian President visited after his inauguration.

On the whole, the negotiations between the President of Russia and the President of Italy and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Italy have confirmed the high level of businesslike and constructive partnership between Russia and Italy which has become a tangible factor in present-day European politics. The leaders of our countries have agreed to continue a deep dialogue on all levels on all the issues affecting the interests of Russia and Italy. The Russian President renewed the invitation to the President of Italy to visit our country. The visit will take place in October this year. Invitations have also been conveyed to the Chairman of the Italian government.

On world politics it was stated that the two countries had identical views on the basic issues of the present time. They spoke in favor of strengthening the fundamental role of the UN and the Security Council in the maintenance of universal peace, for the expansion of interaction between Russia and the European Union. Our views on and approaches to the situation around Kosovo and the Balkans as a whole are in many ways similar.

The President of Russia, as I have said in my previous comments, has proposed to create jointly with the Europeans a system of anti-missile defense to ensure the security of the whole of Europe.

In the course of the visit a special accent was made on economic interaction between our countries. The talks that were held confirmed the existence of close interconnection between the political partnership of Russia and Italy and their successful economic cooperation. I am referring first of all to big industrial cooperation projects that have the support of the leadership of the two countries - the construction of the Blue Flow trans-Black Sea gas pipeline, the manufacture of FIAT passenger cars in Nizhny Novgorod and the development of the Yak-130 training plane of a new generation. We hope that the implementation of these and other projects will make it possible to draw new investors and manufacturers into the orbit of economic cooperation, expand the possibilities for medium and small business, something to which our Italian partners had paid special attention. A number of concrete proposals to develop bilateral economic cooperation were made in the course of President Putin's meeting with leaders of Italy's business community in Milan. Another important concrete result achieved in the course of the visit was the signing of a memorandum between Vneshekonombank and the Italian Mediobank on the allocation of $1.5 billion for investments and export credits to Russia.

During his stay in Rome the Russian president visited the Vatican where he met with Pope John Paul II. The sides confirmed the stability of contacts between Russia and the Vatican at summit level and noted that the development of relations between the Russian Federation and the Holy See is in the interests of the international community.

Thank you. If there are any questions, I am ready to answer them.

Question

A question about North Korea. The visit to North Korea was announced by the presidential administration today. What can you tell us about the date and the agenda of the visit? Are any documents to be signed and will any other countries be visited in the course of that trip?

I.S. Ivanov

As you know, during my recent visit to North Korea a new treaty of friendship and cooperation between our countries was signed. That is a fundamentally new document which brings relations between our countries to a new modern level. Now it is necessary to fill these relations with concrete content, to develop these relations in the interests of our two countries, in the interests of stability in the region.

The President of Russia was invited by the PDRK leadership to come on a visit and this visit will be made shortly. Of course, questions of developing bilateral relations between Russia and the PDRK will be discussed in the first turn. There has been a certain slump in these relations in recent years. We believe that we must overcome this because this is in the interests of our two countries which have a long history of relations. We believe that there are also many projects of an economic nature which could be carried out in the interests of our two countries.

Naturally, pressing international problems, first of all those concerning the situation in the Asia-Pacific region and, concretely, the Korean Peninsula, will be discussed at the talks. We want the Korean Peninsula to become a region of stability and security. We do not want any threat, any danger of destabilization of the situation in the region to emanate from there. And all those who support these views should facilitate this. Russia has come out and continues to come out for this and will do everything that is necessary for this.

Question

Could you give us your comments on the creation of the Russian-American missile launch warning center in Moscow in the context of the new threats from India and China and also the conversation between the President of Russia and Jiang Zemin?

I.S. Ivanov

First of all about the creation of the global system of control over the proliferation of missiles and missile technologies and then the creation of the center in Moscow. These developments are interconnected to a certain extent.

As you know, an international meeting of experts on the global system of control over the non-proliferation of missiles and missile technologies was held in Moscow on March 16 and was a success. As you realize, the creation of such a system would be very important for the strengthening of strategic stability. The idea of creating such a global system got wide support at the meeting. Now, together with other interested states, we would want to develop this idea further. In this connection we are attentively studying new proposals, including from Britain, the United States and France. The purpose is to promote measures capable of preventing missile proliferation. We are interested in this and are ready for extensive international cooperation. Many of the proposed measures are of unquestionable interest in terms of further advancing the concept of the global control system. In fact, this is now actually becoming an international idea.

As to the joint center for the exchange of data from early warning systems and notification of missile launches, the memorandum on the establishment of this center became a result of the talks on the implementation of the joint statement on the exchange of data on missile launches and early warning signed by the presidents of Russia and the US in 1998.

Why do we need such a center? Its objectives speak for themselves: reducing the risk of missile launches on false warning. This is what this center is about. This is the task to be accomplished by this center in Moscow.

Technically this will be a room where Russian and American operators will see on the screen processed data on missile launches in Russia and the US, as well as other missile launches which can be considered as a threat of a missile attack against our countries. Operators will quickly resolve possible uncertainties either by themselves or by contacting their national command.

The creation of such a center will undoubtedly strengthen the security of not only Russia and the US, but global security as well. However, there can be no cooperation with the US to the detriment of our friendly relations with other countries, and this must be made absolutely clear. This is expressly stated in the memorandum. We do not rule it out that in the future the Moscow center may be reorganized into an international multilateral facility for notification of missile launches.

As for yesterday's telephone conversation between the President of Russia and the Chairman of the PRC, this is a natural dialogue between the leaders of our two countries which are building their partnership - the relations between which are of a strategic nature. They discussed topical issues of bilateral relations and the upcoming visit to China by the President of Russia. President Putin briefed his Chinese colleague on the main results of the Russian-US summit in Moscow. This is a normal practice that exists between our leaders, and it will continue.

About new threats. If you look at the statement you will see that it mentions potential threats. We believe that no threat exist today. But we cannot rule out that a potential threat may emerge in some form. But this is a hypothetical assumption. This is why we say that if such a threat comes from any side, international cooperation will be needed, because this threat, if it becomes real, will be a threat not only to the US, but also to the interests of Russia, Europe and other countries. This is why, if we have to look for ways to counter these potential threats, we should not create a local missile defense system for one country, because this will destroy the basis of strategic stability. Instead, we have to cooperate on the basis of this treaty and look for such responses that would counter these challenges or help us to localize such threats jointly if they emerge in the future and if we all agree that such threats exist.

So, at the summit in Moscow this was an exchange of views rather than a real discussion, because, as I have already said, in our view no real threat exists now. But we cannot rule out anything in the future.

As for the amendments to the ABM Treaty, I think this is what you were talking about, the 1972 ABM Treaty provides for certain steps to make the treaty more viable. But this does not apply to its fundamental principles. This is why it is very important that Clause 5 of the Joint Statement says that the ABM Treaty remains the cornerstone of strategic stability. At the same time, if any discussions are possible, they will focus on issues of secondary importance which do not affect the essence of this treaty.

Question

First. Will President Putin try to convince North Korea during his visit there to stop the development of missile technologies?

Second. You said the early warning center in Moscow may be reorganized into an international center. I just want to point out that the American side says that this center may be chosen for monitoring missile launches in North Korea in two years. So, will this center become a place to monitor missile launches in North Korea, intentionally or not?

I.S. Ivanov

On your first question. The President of Russia will be visiting a friendly country and he has no intention to convince anyone of anything. He will hold full-scale talks at the highest level on the entire range of issues. All the issues of mutual interest will be discussed. I repeat, we would like to see the Korean Peninsula to be an island of stability and the relations between the South and North Korea to develop favorably so that the region should be a region of well-being. Russia, for its part, will do everything to contribute towards that end.

As for the Moscow Center, it will track launches of all missiles wherever they occur. It is not the goal of the Center to monitor launches only from one particular spot. From wherever missiles are launched, these launches will be registered by the Center. The main task is to prevent false information entailing dangerous actions.

Question

Could you tell us anything about the Russian President's upcoming visit to Spain and what is expected from that trip?

I.S. Ivanov

We attach great importance to the forthcoming visit to Spain in terms of further activation of development of our political dialogue. You know that the President of the Spanish government, Mr. Aznar, was in Moscow recently. In the course of that visit we exchanged opinions on many key issues. On many international problems both of a global and regional nature our positions are close. We intend to strengthen and develop this dialogue. Russia is interested in promoting our trade and economic relations. On the whole these relations are making good headway, but we think that the current level of economic development in Spain makes it possible for Spanish business to invest substantially more in the Russian market. So, in the course of the visit the Russian President will meet with the leading businessmen of Spain and they will get information on the state of affairs in the Russian economy and on the plans of our government so that they will be able to realistically assess their potential and opportunities in our market. We think that the relations between Russia and Spain can and must play an active part in European politics and in a number of regions. These will be the issues discussed in Madrid.

Question

Did the presidents of Russia and the United States discuss the Middle East? Have they agreed on any joint measures to promote the peace process? Is President Putin planning to go to the Middle East? If so, when will his trip begin and what countries will it take in?

I.S. Ivanov

The Middle East settlement was, of course, discussed. Especially considering the recent events, that is, the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanese territory. As co-sponsors, we favor continued negotiations on all the three tracks. We are interested in early resumption of negotiations on the Israeli-Syrian track, because a comprehensive Middle East settlement is impossible without this. And we have agreed to maintain close contacts in the future as well. As you know, the U.S. Secretary of State flew to the Middle East from Moscow so as to help promote settlements on all the three tracks, I repeat, on all the three tracks. It is too early yet to speak about the concrete date of the Russian President's visit to the Middle East, but he constantly pays attention to this topic, closely follows the development of all the processes and we will continue to actively contribute to settlement.

Question

What issues are you going to discuss during your forthcoming meetings with the Indian Minister of External Affairs?

I.S. Ivanov

Naturally we will discuss the whole range of our issues, because we have special relations with India. This is our major or one of the major partners in Asia. This is a great power of course with which we will discuss not only bilateral issues, but also global problems which exist in the Asia Pacific Region and other parts of the world. This is a planned visit and one of the main goals of the upcoming talks is to prepare the Russian President's visit to India to be held this fall.

Question

How do you assess the state of Russian-German relations, what do you expect of the upcoming summit in Berlin? What place does Germany hold in Russia's relations with foreign countries?

I.S. Ivanov

Without noting it, we have switched to future visits. I would prefer to brief you on their results after their conclusion. The visit to Spain is scheduled for the 13th and the 14th of June, the visit to the Federal Republic of Germany for the 15th and the 16th, and then there will be a visit to Moldavia. Next week we may have an opportunity to meet with you and brief you on their results in detail.

In brief, I want to say that Germany has held and continues to hold one of the central places in our European and world policy. It is our important partner and we are interested in enhancing the big potential of our bilateral relations in the interests of our two countries and in the interests of European and global stability.

There are possibilities for that. Russia has the political will to do that. I think Berlin also has the political will for that. This is why we attach so much importance to the upcoming talks and hope that these negotiations in a broad format - as you know, the President will be accompanied by several ministers, including the Finance Minister, the Economics Minister, the Interior Minister, the Defense Minister, the Foreign Minister - and we hope that such comprehensive talks will give a serious impetus to our bilateral relations in all areas.

Question

Did you hold the second round of talks with the Albanian Foreign Minister? And what did you fail to agree upon yesterday? I mean the problem of Kosovo.

I.S. Ivanov

The second round of talks was held at a dinner as was provided for in the program because all protocol events are part of the talks. So, responding to the first part of your question, the answer is yes, it was held. As for what we agreed upon and what we failed to agree upon, what is important is that we have identical approaches to the situation in Kosovo that Resolution 1244 must be observed. This means that the principles enshrined in this resolution, primarily respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Yugoslavia must be observed. Now I think that our disagreements concern more the past than the present, that is, they concern the causes of the crisis. Our point of view is that NATO aggression against Yugoslavia made this problem - this problem did not emerge today. The problem of Kosovo existed before. But the aggression, instead of, as some Western politicians claim, providing a solution, led this problem into a deadlock which is very hard to break now, although the international community is working on this and we are working on this, too. The point of view of the Albanian minister is that the current situation is a result of Belgrade's policy. That is rather a history discussion. As for the future, I want to say once again that both Albania and Russia are members of the UN, and all UN members must comply with UN Security Council resolutions.

Question

You said a lot about possible cooperation between Europe and Russia on a non-strategic missile defense system. What was President Clinton's reaction to President Putin's proposal on cooperation between America and Russia in this field?

I.S. Ivanov

First of all, I want to remind you that the purpose of the agreement on the separation of strategic ABM from non-strategic ABM reached in 1997 was to identify an area where we could cooperate. This area is non-strategic missile defense. As far as I know, the President of the United States reacted to this proposal with interest.